Kevin Breen complaining that he was feeling too tired and body ache, his wife assumed it to be symptoms of viral fever and two days later a razor-sharp stomach pain so powerful that Breen could no longer walk with fever like symptoms.
33 year old Julie Breen, took her husband to the emergency room, where initial tests for strep throat and the viral fever came back negative. Doctors sent Breen home with a prescription for a nausea medication and pain-relieving pills to help him through the next couple of nights.
"They just didn't work," the father of three said. "I felt worse the next morning, and I said, 'We gotta go to the hospital'", reported The Washington Post.
Though he had appendicitis before, he was familiar with abdominal pain but this time it was very different.
Doctors diagnosed that he had contracted strep throat; not a typical strain of the bacteria but a rare version that would come close to killing him - eventually claiming his hands and his feet.
"They opened him up and found 1-and-a-half liters of infected pus in his abdominal region," Julie Breen said.
"We met with the surgeon after surgery and she sat us down and said, 'I've never seen this before and I don't like it,'" Julie Breen added. "'I don't know what it is.'"
However, doctors couldn't find any holes on his body, leaving them at a loss for explaining the buildup of pus, Steensma said. Doctors sent a sample of the material to a microbiology lab for testing. Around the same time, they began to notice a bright red rash on Breen's torso.
Breen's strain of strep, she noted, was particularly strong, and his body was unable to defend itself.
"It's estimated that there are over 1 million cases per year, and this is only the second case that has ever been reported of strep traveling from a male patient's throat to his stomach," Steensma said.
Although doctors had identified the problem, Breen's battle was just beginning. Doctors said his infection caused him to go into severe septic shock; within hours, his body began to shut down. Doctors told Breen's wife to call family members and let them know her husband might not survive.
“He had multi-system organ failure and needed a ventilator," she said. "He had renal failure and acute kidney injury and liver injury and abnormalities in coagulation of his blood clotting. His blood pressure was so profoundly low, he pretty much required maximum doses of three medications to maintain it."
Before his life-threatening illness, Breen sold life insurance and his wife worked as a fifth-grade teacher. Breen is no longer employed. His wife, who has taken time off work, is now the family's sole breadwinner. Breen said he hopes to receive prosthetic limbs. And while the coming months may be marked by uncertainly, there's one thing he knows he wants to do.
"I'd like to be able to water ski again," he said. "That was a huge passion of mine. I may not be able to do it at the same level, but just getting out there would be special."